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Profile of the Day: Jim Thorpe

On this day in 1888, athlete Jim Thorpe was born. A versatile athlete, today Thorpe is remembered as one of the most accomplished American athletes in history.

Profile of the Day: Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe / Library of Congress

Although the exact date of his birth is unknown, his birthday is generally stated as May 28, 1887 or 1888. He was born in a one-room cabin near what is today Prague, Oklahoma. Thorpe had a mix of European and Native American ancestry and was raised in the Sac and Fox nation in Oklahoma. His native name, Wa-Tho-Huk, translated to “Bright Path.” He had a twin brother, Charlie, who died of pneumonia at the age of 9.

At the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, Thorpe set new records in both the decathlon and the pentathlon and won two gold medals. However, an investigation after the games discovered that Thorpe had played semiprofessional baseball in 1909 and 1910, which should have disqualified him from the Olympics. As a result, Thorpe was stripped of his medals. It would not be until 1983, 30 years after his death, that Thorpe’s gold medals would be restored to his family.

After the Olympics, Thorpe went on to play professional baseball, football, and basketball. His accomplishments earned him the distinction as one of the most versatile and greatest American athletes of the twentieth century.

Thorpe died of heart failure on March 28, 1953.

Explore Jim Thorpe’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re related to the athlete.

View Jim Thorpe’s Geni Profile


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